Brexit: WSTA accuses UK govt of ‘pointing the finger’

10th April, 2019 by Owen Bellwood

Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) chief executive Miles Beale has accused UK chancellor Philip Hammond of “insulting” British businesses in comments made regarding Brexit preparations.


Miles Beale, WSTA chief executive, accused the government of “pointing the finger at everyone but itself”

During treasury questions with the UK chancellor, Hammond said that “despite government’s attempts to engage with business” many had taken the “approach of the ostrich in the sand” in relation to preparations for a no-deal exit from the European Union (EU).

Hammond added that businesses were “not taking precautionary actions to prepare for the possibility of a no-deal exit”.

Responding to the chancellor’s comments, Beale said: “The government is pointing the finger at everyone but itself. Blaming businesses for not preparing is downright insulting, especially when they are expected to spend time and money with no clarity or confidence in the outcome.

“With just three days to go before the UK could be forced to leave the EU without a deal, many of our questions to government are still met with ‘we don’t know’ and new advice on how to manage a no-deal Brexit is too little too late.

“Civil servants are listening and working hard to try and advise businesses, but government has led us to a cliff edge without a parachute. After well over a year of patience, businesses deserve a clear roadmap to plan for the future trading landscape.”

Since the referendum in 2016, the WSTA has campaigned for a Brexit deal that will allow “frictionless trade in goods”, “sufficient labour supply” and a transition period that lasts until at least 2020.

The trade body also recently ramped up its calls for the UK government to leave the EU with a deal in its latest campaign: Don’t Bottle It.

As uncertainty surrounding the UK’s future relationship with the EU remains, The Spirits Business spoke with spirits stakeholders to find out how they are planning for all possible scenarios.

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